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Trooper killed by truck in Amsterdam honored at funeral

December 21, 2013
The Leader Herald

WATERVLIET (AP) - A 35-year-old New York state trooper killed in a wreck on the Thruway in Amsterdam was honored Friday as a doting father to his two boys and a popular co-worker.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and hundreds of troopers from around the state attended the funeral of David Cunniff at Grace Fellowship Church in Watervliet.

The trooper died after a tractor-trailer truck slammed into his patrol car and a car he had pulled over for speeding Monday night.

Article Photos

The casket of New York State Trooper David Cunniff is carried to Grace Fellowship Church for a funeral on Friday in Watervliet.
The Associated?Press

Mourners said Cunniff was quick with a joke, loved his guitars and did a "killer" Will Ferrell imitation. But the happy-go-lucky demeanor came with an intense devotion to his job and family, State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico said. At home, he'd take up a light saber to play "Star Wars" with his boys. And on duty, he made sure he greeted everyone he came across, from toll collectors to judges.

"David was the kind of trooper everybody wants on their shift, always ready to back you up," D'Amico said.

Trooper Scott Claus said everyone loved working with Cunniff. Claus was also impressed by Cunniff's devotion to his wife and their two boys, one who uses a wheelchair because of spinal muscular atrophy.

"The small things in life seemed to be the most important, but they always revolved around his family," Claus said.

State police say the rig veered off the Thruway at Exit 27 in Amsterdam and hit the back of Cunniff's patrol car, sending it 50 yards into an embankment. Cunniff was partially thrown from the car and suffered massive head injuries. He died the next day.

The tractor-trailer driver, Gary Blakley, 65, of Ridgeway, Ontario, wasn't injured. The driver of the other car, 57-year-old Eric Heller of Stone Creek in Warren County, was taken to Albany Medical Center Hospital.

Montgomery County District Attorney James E. Conboy will decide on possible charges against the tractor-trailer driver, said state police spokesman Jason Jones.

D'Amico said neither alcohol nor weather was considered a factor in the crash.

Cunniff was a nine-year state police veteran.



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